Bruno Guimarães


Phil Costa

January 4, 2022

Lyon's Bruno Guimaraes

This profile was originally published in the fifth edition of the Scouted Football Handbook, available here.

Who is Bruno Guimarães?

Growing up in Rio de Janeiro teaches you one thing: regardless of the glamour or struggle of everyday life, football comes first. Fierce rivals Flamengo and Fluminense headline a string of historic clubs that derive from the area, and it was with the former that Bruno Guimarães first discovered heartbreak. 

Released by Fluminense as a 12-year-old, he quickly found solace with Série D side Audax before being scouted by Athletico Paranaense in 2017. The midfielder initially joined Athletico-PR on loan and was assigned to their under-23 side, making an almost immediate jump to their first-team after outgrowing academy level.

Five Brasileirão appearances were all the club needed before offering him a permanent deal. Since putting pen to paper in March 2018, Bruno featured in 79 games out of a possible 84. And it was in the 2019 Copa Libertadores where Bruno truly rose to prominence. He enjoyed a productive spell of form, scoring and assisting twice in seven appearances, in addition to his man of the match performance against eventual semi-finalists, Boca Juniors. 

His domestic form also merited Prêmio Craque do Brasileirão (team of the year) inclusion after helping guide the Furaçao to a fifth-place finish – their highest top-flight finish in ten years.

Measuring talent from Brazil can be a thankless task. For every Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and Arthur, there is a Lucas Silva and Thiago Maia, the certainties of all certainties to succeed in Europe. But there is an assurance and maturity to Bruno Guimarães’ game that seduces into appreciating his quality. The 22-yearold unsurprisingly attracted interest from several top clubs, and Olympique Lyonnais eventually won the race for his signature for a fee of €25 million.

Lyon's Bruno Guimaraes

Bruno Guimarães' style of play

Bruno’s most immediately striking quality is that of his passing. The 22-year-old naturally finds himself close to or even between the centre-backs, where he can turn and distribute as per the game’s requirements. 

His short passing is always sharp and well-intentioned, often fizzed into feet before a return angle is offered, but most impressive are his diagonal switches. The Brazilian midfielder wastes little time in possession, taking one touch to set himself before spraying perfectly-floated balls out to either full-back.

He also boasts two trademark passes, both of which involve splitting defensive lines. The first, the more commonly used, is an incisive through ball between centre-back and left-back, disguised as a simple pass out wide that suddenly whips infield and slices through the defence. 

The second is made with the outside of his foot and exploits static defending, inviting aggressive runners to get in behind their man. Both full backs – Madson and Márcio Azevedo – have benefited from these plays. Maintaining an 88 percent pass completion rate with such variety also deserves acknowledgment.

But those qualities should not detract from his intelligent work off the ball. Bruno – usually partnered alongside the more attack-minded Wellington – takes on a conservative role and occupies space instinctively when needed. 

Under Tiago Nunes, Athletico-PR like to dominate possession and score via Manchester City-esque cutbacks which can leave them vulnerable to fast-paced counter-attacks. And in those situations the 22-year-old sauntered left and right, filling in seamlessly for team-mates stranded in more advanced areas. 

He has a knack for knowing where the ball will drop and how opposition players occupy space, highlighted by his adequate defensive output of 1.3 interceptions and 1.8 ball recoveries per 90 minutes.

"He also boasts two trademark passes, both of which involve splitting defensive lines. The first, the more commonly used, is an incisive through ball between centre-back and left-back, disguised as a simple pass out wide that suddenly whips infield and slices through the defence."

The Rio-born midfielder is also extremely diligent in the tackle. He prefers to stalk his opponent, jockeying them into harmless areas or better, back towards their own goal. Bruno knows he has the capability to match opponents physically which nullifies the need to commit himself or jump in recklessly. 

However, when required, his tackling technique is reliable whether standing or sliding, averaging 1.7 tackles per 90 minutes – more than any of his midfield partners. He also has a habit of ghosting up behind players and pinching the ball before launching quick transitions with his quick operational speed and expansive range of passing, a skill which Nunes has utilised during his spell in charge. 

Deviating from an otherwise exceptionally polished skillset, his finishing can be surprisingly erratic. The Furaçao standout has proven a knack for arriving late into the box – as shown by his two goals against Cruzeiro last season – but while those goals were arrowed into the top corner, not every strike has to be. 

Bruno often prioritises power over placement in search of the unsavable effort, when a cooler head would find bottom corners or even a spare team-mate in a better position instead. He also has a frustrating habit of half-heartedly challenging for aerial duels, winning 45 percent of his challenges in the air, which should be removed from his game, but these flaws are both minor and fixable.

Forecasting Bruno Guimarães' future

Arsenal, Atlético Madrid and SL Benfica all courted the 22-year-old midfielder, but Olympique Lyonnais – equipped with Juninho Pernambucano as sporting director – convinced Athletico Paranaense financially and the player with promises of personal development.

Speaking to Globoesporte in January, Bruno stated: “If I am going to leave Brazil, I will consider joining a team where I can play, evolve and experience big matches. I’m still young, so I don’t need to think about money,” which is exactly why this move makes sense.

OL boast one of the most fruitful academies in world football and are experts in moulding the careers of young footballers. Ligue 1 will also offer a smooth but competitive transition into Europe, where Bruno can acclimatise without feeling overwhelmed by an instant demand to settle. With Lucas Tousart joining Hertha BSC in July, he has essentially been handed an extended pre-season and clear first-team pathway which points to how highly they rate him already. And should his development continue as is, France will likely become just another stepping stone.

Bruno is a high-level ball progressor through his passing; he canexecute a wide range of passes, great technique and disguise. He is also an active defender, making more than 3 tackles per 90 in Ligue 1.

If he wants to blossom into a proper box-to-box midfielder, Bruno must develop his game in the final third, especially his finishing.

Latest podcast